Kenyans living illegally in US to be affected by immigration ruling
A ruling by the United States Court of Appeals that rejected the Barack Obama administration’s request to lift a ban on measures to protect four million undocumented immigrants has rattled Kenyans living in the country illegally.
President Obama had in November used an executive order to push through the measure, but a judge in Texas issued an injunction against it in February until a case challenging it is determined.
The measure, which would have protected illegal immigrants from deportation, has dampened the spirits of thousands of Kenyans who had pinned their hopes on the programme.
Most of them have overstayed their visasand are referred to as undocumented.
“The ruling is indeed a very big setback because it dashes the hopes and aspirations of many Kenyans who live here without proper status. Many of them had believed that with President Obama’s bold executive action, their legal situation was bound to change,” said David Amakobe, an immigration activist based in Delaware.
Experts are warning that the latest move is likely to undermine President Obama and put his immigration legacy in jeopardy because the decision on the court case is likely to come close to the end of his term in office.
The ruling is not likely to come until next June.
“By then, the US will be in the throes of presidential campaigns and President Obama’s final term will be closing down. There is this likelihood that some people who don’t have proper status would be reluctant to apply since they fear that the information they provide maybe used against them,” said Khalid Rajab.
The plaintiffs in the case, all states led by Republican governors, said the federal government exceeded its authority in demanding that whole categories of immigrants be protected.
The Obama administration has insisted it is within its rights to ask the Department of Homeland Security to use discretion before deporting non-violent migrants with US family ties.
But the Court of Appeals judges said the approval rate of Obama’s executive action on immigration, aimed at people brought into the US as children, was too high to reflect true discretion.
Piqued by Congress’s reluctance to act on immigration reform, President Obama announced in November that he would take executive action to help immigrants.
He has since faced criticism from Republicans, who say the program grants amnesty to lawbreakers.
By Chris Wamalwa